WASHINGTON, July 25 /U.S. Newswire/ --
Following is a statement by HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson regarding the 13th
anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act:
"Only 13 years after it was signed
into law, it is difficult to imagine our country without the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA has transformed us, and it continues to
transform us. Attitudes have already changed dramatically, barriers of all kinds
are in the process of coming down, and opportunities are opening. ADA has helped
all Americans to better understand our world through the experience and needs of
"The ADA also reminds us how much
remains to be done. Eventually, every one of us will be touched closely by
issues of illness or disability -- whether for ourselves or for family, friends
or fellow workers. We must respond in ways that benefit not only those with
disabilities, but our whole community.
"With the leadership of President
Bush and his New Freedom Initiative, the Department of Health and Human Services
gives high priority to improving our nation's response to disability -- in our
many programs that support direct services, as well as our medical research that
can help prevent or ameliorate
disability, and especially in policies that can shape the options available to
disabled individuals and their families.
"In particular, the President wants
to encourage inclusion and community-based living for Americans with
disabilities. We must avoid and reverse policies that have inadvertently led to
excessive reliance on institutional care. And we must create more opportunities
to provide care in the home and community as an alternative.
"In his New Freedom Initiative, the
President has recognized the need for a comprehensive approach to removing
barriers. That's why he called on HHS and other government agencies to prepare a
broad-scale review of the steps that need to be taken. I was pleased to deliver
that report to him last year, and I am pleased today to report that we are
making progress on those goals.
"Likewise, the President called for
a new assessment of our nation's system for helping people with mental illness.
Just this week, the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental
Health delivered its report, pointing the way toward fundamental overhaul
of that system. I am committed to move forward productively toward the vision of
this report. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will
deliver initial action recommendations to me quickly.
"The President's budget this year
includes a dramatic proposal to support community living for those with
disabilities. It envisions more than $2.5 billion in multi-year Medicaid
demonstrations that would give the states significant new support and incentives
to enable people in institutions the choice to receive services in their own
homes and communities. The purpose is to promote a better balance, so that good
institutional care is available when needed, but community-based care
alternatives are equally available. The President's proposal also includes
important new projects to develop our system of respite care. We have conveyed
legislation to Congress to authorize these projects, and we will be working with
key members of Congress over the coming weeks to achieve enactment as quickly as
"Our efforts are continuing in many
other areas as well. For example:
-- Our Centers for Medicare
& Medicaid Services (CMS) has provided $125 million to states in the past
two years to support development of home and community-based care. Another $40
million is being provided this year for these 'Real Choice Systems Change'
grants. CMS is also working with states to help them use the flexibility
already available in the Medicaid program to support community care. In
addition, the agency is supporting state efforts to improve the recruitment,
training and retention of community-based direct service workers.
-- CMS and the Administration on Aging
are also developing new information and assistance resources in the community.
Their 'Aging and Disability Resource Center' grants will provide for 'one-stop
shopping' information and entry points to the long-term support system in a
community. Likewise, together with the Health Resources and Services
Administration, CMS will support Family-to-Family Health
Care Information and Education Centers to help families navigate the
long-term support options available for their children.
-- Our new Office on Disability is
helping me oversee the coordination, development and implementation of programs
and special initiatives within HHS that impact people with disabilities. In
creating this office last year, we recognized the importance and cross-cutting
nature of these issues, and the extent to which they touch virtually every HHS
-- Our Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is
also playing an important part pursuant to the Supreme Court's Olmstead
decision. With the Department of Justice, OCR has put in place a new alternative
dispute resolution program to help achieve Olmstead's goals in the most rapid
and productive manner possible, when problems are identified.
"The Department of Health and Human
Services is resolved to support the President in his New Freedom Initiative. I
commend all those who are carrying out this work in HHS, in the states and in
communities throughout America. On the 13th anniversary of Americans with
Disabilities Act, I renew the commitment of our Department to making ADA a fully
to "NEWS BREAKS"
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